If professional soccer players have anything in common, it is this: Most of them can juggle for a long, long time.
Juggling is considered by many to be the ultimate skill for soccer players, because it emphasizes technical skills and does a great job of getting your feet comfortable with the ball. While most first-time jugglers might only be able to keep the ball in the air for two or three touches, practice can lead to quick results. The best soccer players can juggle as long as they want.
Jenny Hammond, a defender for Sky Blue FC of Women's Professional Soccer, has experience coaching both college and youth soccer teams. She has always emphasized juggling to her players, as her coaches emphasized it to her when she was growing up in Mission Viejo, Calif.
"If you can control the ball in the air," Hammond said, "you can control the ball on the ground, which is where the ball is normally."
Hammond has several points of emphasis for those new to juggling:
- Keep your toe down and ankle locked, and try to hit the ball with the laces of your shoe.
- Start with the ball in your hand, drop it to your dominant foot and hit it back into your hands. Then you can try to hit it twice with your dominant foot. Keep progressing.
- Once you're comfortable just using your dominant foot, try alternating feet.
- Set goals for yourself. Try to get five touches without using your hands by the end of the week. Once you reach that, go for 10 the next week.
- Practice! Hard work gets results.
Here is a video of Hammond explaining the basics of juggling: